Drunkenness, not Alcohol, is the Problem

Southern Baptists have passed over 60 anti-alcohol resolutions over the last 120 years. At the most recent meting of the Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination passed a resolution expressing its “total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages.”

That is, Southern Baptists passed a resolution promoting National Prohibition of alcohol.
This is significant because the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., with 16 million members.

About a one-fifth of the delegates opposed the resolution and one, Reverend Benjamin S. Cole, has written why he opposes it. He explains that “Alcohol never killed a 3-year old child on the highway. Drunken drivers did that. Alcohol never destroyed a marriage. Drunken spouses ruined their vows. Alcohol cannot be blamed for rising health-care costs. That credit belongs to gluttony.” That’s a fact often lost on those opposing alcoholic beverages.

Rev. Cole asserts that none of the resolution is grounded in Scripture. He says “First, the resolution claims that alcohol necessarily leads to ‘physical, mental and emotional damage,’ yet one is hard-pressed to understand how all the biblical patriarchs, the apostles and most major figures of biblical literature drank wine as a staple of their diet without suffering the concomitant brain damage alleged in the resolution.”

He argues secondly that “the resolution argues that alcohol is a destroyer of marriages, a menace to families, and a highway murderer. To blame the contents of a bottle for climbing divorce rates and highway deaths makes as much sense as blaming a bullet for a homicide.” Rev. Cole wonders how many prohibition advocates support the use of firearms although “alcohol use is clearly allowed and even encouraged in the Bible – but not the use of a Winchester 12-gauge.”

Rev. Cole objects to the resolution’s insistence that “the use of alcohol leads inevitably to addiction and serves as a gateway drug to criminal behavior and other substance abuse. He finds it hard to believe that a person who had a drink with his meal is “a breath away from swallowing or smoking or snorting or shooting an illegal substance.”

The religious leader notes that “not only do resolution supporters refuse to acknowledge the entire biblical teaching on the matter, they even read selectively from texts that they do cite.” He explains that “most arguments for teetotaling reference the Nazarite vow of the Old Testament or the example of John the Baptist in the New Testament as evidence that those who abstain from alcohol achieve a greater level of holiness. What is missing from their argument is that the Nazarite abstained from vinegar and raisins, too, and never cut his hair. Moreover, John the Baptist chose locusts as his dietary supplement.” However, Rev. Cole reports that he has yet to find a teetotaler who doesn’t cut his hair or who eats bugs and honey with his morning coffee.

Rev. Cole concludes that “It's as if the only people who didn't get word that Prohibition was repealed are the fundamentalists in the Southern Baptist Convention.


  • Cole, Benjamin S. Baptists and drinking: Drunkenness, not alcohol, is the problem. Dallas Morning News, July 15, 2006; SBC Annual Meeting 2006 (http://www.sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc06/resolutions/sbcresolution-06.asp?ID=5)

Filed Under: Prohibition